What are you supposed to look like? A young 8-year-old boy was sitting on a wooden pew during the Sunday morning service in a war torn German sanctuary. The others in attendance were stern, rigid, and downcast. The sermon was quite dry and austere. The young boy sought some object upon which to focus his curious attention. His eyes focused on the stained glass behind the minister’s pulpit. He noticed that the colors were bright, the faces etched in the glass were joyful, and the perfect morning sun illuminated the colors. After eyeing it for several minutes, he was very impressed and whispered to his mother, “Oh mother, who are those people in the colorful stained glass?” His mother replied in a correcting tone, “They are saints. Shhh.”
The next day, the young boy was off to school. At the outset of the history lesson, his teacher announced, “Today we are going to learn about the saints. Can anyone tell me what a saint is?” While others in the class seemed puzzled, the young boy excitedly raised his hand. The teacher called out his name, “Tobias, can you tell us what a saint is?” He replied, “Yes ma’am. Saints have joyful faces. They are colorful and the sun shines through them.”
What a living picture that could be. Joyful, colorful, and transparent; despite our circumstances, our lives reflect the radiant color and joy of Christ as His light and glory illuminates our beings.
After Jesus lays out the beatitudes, the mandate of Christlike living in Matthew 5:14, He says, You are the light of the world. It is no wonder that He says that. There is a vibrant expression coming from the believer, a radiance coming from the presence of God in our lives. Does His light shine through you refracting the glory of His Spirit through your words, actions, attitudes, and relationships?
This morning, we conclude our series, Primary Colors. These are the qualities about our lives, which remain constant, regardless of our circumstances. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul, the prisoner-apostle, provides a living example of spiritual maturity under fire.
Integrity is that mark of personal character, which fades not in the path of danger or the occasion to compromise. His words of verse 27 convey the call; Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…
Unity also comes in verse 27; stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel… We are united in the experience, ministry and power of the Holy Spirit, as well as the work before us to communicate the Gospel to our generation.
These reflect the progressive maturity of each believer. That is the goal of this letter. With a pastor’s heart, Paul the apostle encourages Philippian Christians to pursue the purposes of God for their lives. What emerges in his words is a portrait of the NT Christian.
What is the final color, which shines through the believer who faces trying circumstances and suffering? Verse 28 provides the answer; and not in any way terrified… The answer is bravery. Bravery is essential to the Christian life.
Philippians 1:6… The Lord desires to complete a work in our lives. That work is thwarted by circumstances, which decimate our faith, deplete our energy, and fight against God’s purposes in our lives. Bravery in the midst of difficulty is essential. Simply put, a believer’s bravery is an indication of maturity in Christ. A believer can face the stiffest of oppositions or the most pressing circumstances and radiate bravery in the midst.
Trials are inherent to the Christian life. 2 Timothy 3:12 – Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Because they are, we must gain an understanding of why suffering happens. Why cancer? Why personal disappointment? Why heartache? And how do I deal with it? How do I overcome? The Word of God and the Holy Spirit are going to help us.
1 We are positioned in His Sovereignty. V. 28
Originally, these words come to the NT church in the first century Roman Empire. By AD 60, the fires of persecution were ablaze against Christians. In July of AD 64, the wicked Roman Emperor Nero set fire to Rome and sought to fix blame upon early Christians. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all that confessed Christ. The Roman historian of that day, Tacitus renders his report. Multitudes were arrested, simply out of Nero’s hatred. Mockery of every sort was added to their execution. Covered with the skin of wild beasts, they were torn by dogs, nailed to crosses, and burned alive.
Paul, himself, was under Roman house arrest; however his words are clear in verse 28; not in any way terrified by your adversaries. The Greek word for terrified means to be frightened or unsettled by fear. It was a term used for horses who were riled into an uncontrollable state or cattle spooked into a stampede. Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe. In trials or difficulties, we are to be under control, unwavering, standing fast. As a believer, fear doesn’t become your counselor. In Christ, we remain confident and committed.